Widowed at a very young age and alone with a baby, my mother didn’t have very much at all.
But she still made sure to give me a dollar to put in the Salvation Army kettle every time we visited the grocery store during the holiday season. In this way, she taught me one of the most valuable lessons she could – selfless giving. No matter how little we had, there were others who had even less.
And it’s true. Giving does bring more joy and happiness than spending money on yourself.
Giving is also contagious. The “pay it forward” idea isn’t a myth. It’s a fact. When people experience a generous kindness, they’re more likely to treat others the same way.
In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many destitute individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the poverty-stricken. He only had one major problem – funding.
Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying and praying about how he could find the money to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas Day. His thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.
The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.
Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people.
Captain McFee’s kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.
COVID has not only created a bigger need, but it has also decreased the number of traditional Red Kettles you’re used to seeing on street corners and at store entrances each Christmas season. There are more people facing hardship and the need is greater than ever.
Thankfully, now you don’t even need to go shopping to donate to The Salvation Army’s red kettle program. You can just click the button below to donate online.
The Ruth and J.O. Stone Foundation are helping The Salvation Army rescue Christmas with a $250,000 challenge match during the Red Kettle campaign.
Even now, after Christmas is over until December 31, any donation placed in Red Kettles throughout Clearwater & Upper Pinellas County, donated online through the #RedKettleChallenge, or through a sponsor adopted kettle, will be matched penny for penny, dollar for dollar up to $250,000!
My mom is long gone now, but her lesson remains. I can hear her still quoting the Bible, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Click here to listen to Major Ted Morris and his daughter Anna talk about The Salvation Army of Clearwater & Upper Pinellas on The Kelly Kelly Show on WTAN.
The Salvation Army Clearwater & Upper Pinellas
1625 N Belcher Rd, Clearwater